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More people die from falling than car crashes or fires in Estonia

Rescue worker.
Rescue worker. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Falling down or off somewhere was a more common cause of death last year than all car crashes, drownings and fire deaths combined in Estonia. Falls also top work-related accidents statistics.

According to data from Statistics Estonia, 212 people died as a result of unintentional and random falls last year, while car crashes, drownings and fire deaths numbered 126 combined.

Over the past decade 1,411 people have died from falling, making it one of the most common accidental causes of death, Statistics Estonia analyst Henry Lass said.

Car crashes have claimed 806 lives, fires 464, while 450 people have drowned. The most common form of accidental death is poisoning as a result of which 233 people died last year and 2,256 have over the past decade.

The Rescue Board counts accidental falls at home, meaning that falls caused by a health failure, such as a stroke, are not reflected in the statistics. The board's data suggests that not only are domestic accidents the cause of a lot of administrative burden, a considerable number of people who injure themselves at home die.

Domestic falls that required emergency responders to show up numbered 843 last year, down by over one hundred compared to 2021. But more people died from accidentally falling in 2022.

The average accidental fall victim was 77 years old, had chronic conditions, lived in an apartment building and fell either from bed or when going to the toilet.

Accidental falls are least numerous between April and July, while they are most common December to February. Ida-Viru, Lääne, Valga and Viljandi counties had the most cases per 10,000 residents.

Janika Usin, head of the Rescue Board's prevention department, said that awareness campaigns launched in 2022 have managed to lower the overall number of cases where people find themselves in a helpless situation.

"Noticing, getting involved, interest of loved ones and help from neighbors are the relevant keywords here," she said.

Slippery surfaces not the main reason for occupational falls

Data from the Estonian Labor Inspectorate shows that falls and stumbles also crown occupational accidents statistics. Every third such incident culminated in a serious injury last year.

Kaire Saarep, director general of the inspectorate, said that slippery winter conditions are not the main cause of falls and that rather people's inattentiveness is to blame.

She added that 2022 saw more falls and stumbles than the year before – for an average of three daily cases – irrespective of the sector. "Unfortunately, people falling on level ground and from heights remains common also this year and there is no improvement in sight." Saarep added that most such accidents are preventable.

Janika Usin said that Estonia has tasked the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior with putting together a home safety development plan for 2025-2030.

"The activity plan should be focused on two main topics, which are exchange of information and best practices. The goal is to notice people in need and notify those who can offer assistance," Usin said.

Because rescuers often respond to cases where elderly people living alone injure themselves at home, the Rescue Board is looking for ways to fall-proof homes, working with social aid departments.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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